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Curry Tribute: A Beacon of Light and Life

The Way of Love:
Reflections on Presiding Bishop Michael Bruce Curry

This is one of a series of tributes to Presiding Bishop Curry, as published in the May 26 edition of The Living Church.

I have known Bishop Curry as a colleague since 2001, when the newly elected bishops of 2000-01 gathered in the Diocese of the Virgin Islands to learn more about our daunting call to episcopal leadership. We all found delight in the company, the willingness to learn and laugh and dream of what God’s future would bring, expecting the deeply challenging work ahead. None of us knew how challenging it would be. Nevertheless, we had glorious conversations, plenty of humor, and mishaps we still laugh about — one of our cohort lost a suitcase, which wasn’t returned until the owner returned home. Our colleague’s bag was full of worn clothes and sand aplenty.

Bishop Curry and I were part of the first cohort of new bishops who participated in a study to investigate what forms of episcopal leadership were necessary and most useful. It also included a group of new bishops in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The cohort bonded remarkably well, and the church (writ large) gained a good deal of insight about this ancient, continuously reforming, and challenging vocation. The data gained from the study helped to build collegiality in what is now called “Living Our Vows,” aiming to form new bishops for their first three years of episcopacy.

Bishop Curry has a deep and wide-ranging giftedness — of passion for the gospel, justice among people and peoples, and collegiality — which has been honed over 45 years of ordained ministry. His love of God and the gospel is encompassing, focused particularly on racial reconciliation and evangelism, work that has been persistent, well-resourced, and at this point non-negotiable in this church. The first is part of the whole — racial reconciliation cannot emerge without a sense of God’s work among us, and evangelism cannot be effective when some are excluded. His broad and focused view has been a beacon of light and life in a changing church and a changing world.

As Primate, Bishop Curry has built fruitful relationships across the Anglican Communion and among other churches. His gifts of African ancestry and American locus helped that work immensely in a time of division. He surprised the world in the wedding sermon and changed hearts; he bonded with African brother bishops who found common cause in the gospel. He’s been ready to preach to us and for us. He’s been a tireless prophet toward turning this world’s injustice into the biblical reality of shalom. We give thanks for the love of God in his heart and his voice and his words.

Bishop Curry’s health challenges in the last phase of his tenure have been met with prayer, gratitude, and example. The church has learned from that unexpected example, modeled on Jesus’ own.

We must say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” for your prophetic leadership in this ministry. Thanks be to God for Michael, called to be priest, bishop, and primate for a body both fractious and loving. May the next chapter be filled with grace and thanksgiving.

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